skip to main content

HCPSS / POLICIES

Policy 1020 – Sexual Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct

The purpose of this policy is to set clear expectations for behaviors that promote an inclusive and equitable environment and provide guidelines for students, employees, and third parties in preventing, recognizing, reporting and addressing instances of sexual misconduct in accordance with this policy and with local, state, and federal requirements.

Policy Document

I. Policy Statement

The Board of Education of Howard County is committed to providing an educational and work environment that is free from sexual discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct. The board is also committed to fostering a climate where individuals are valued and their safety and rights are protected. To that end, the Board prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression, in its educational program, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, community partnerships, and in the workplace, in accordance with federal law. The Board recognizes that sexual misconduct is a form of discrimination on the basis of sex prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended in 1972 and 1991, and Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972.

Students, employees, and third parties share responsibility for maintaining a school and work environment free from sexual discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct. Employees, students, and third parties may be subject to disciplinary action or consequences for inappropriate behavior including that of a sexual nature, even when the behavior does not rise to the level of sexual discrimination as defined by prevailing federal and state laws. No person will be subjected to retaliation for opposing or reporting any practice deemed to violate this policy.

II. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to set clear expectations for behaviors that promote an inclusive and equitable environment and provide guidelines for students, employees, and third parties in preventing, recognizing, reporting and addressing instances of sexual misconduct in accordance with this policy and with local, state, and federal requirements.

III. Definitions

Within the context of this policy, the following definitions apply:

  1. Gender Expression – The external manifestation of one’s gender identity, usually expressed through behavior, clothing, haircut, voice or body characteristics.

  2. Gender Identity –One’s internal, personal sense of his/her/their own gender.

  3. Parent – Any one of the following, recognized as the adult(s) legally responsible for the student:

    1. Biological Parent – A natural parent whose parental rights have not been terminated.

    2. Adoptive Parent – A person who has legally adopted the student and whose parental rights have not been terminated.

    3. Custodian – A person or an agency appointed by the court as the legal custodian of the student and granted parental rights and responsibilities.

    4. Guardian – A person who has been placed by the court in charge of the affairs of the student and granted parental rights and responsibilities.

    5. Caregiver – An adult resident of Howard County who exercises care, custody or, control over the student, but is neither the biological parent nor legal guardian, as long as the person satisfies the requirements of the Education Article, §7-101 (c) (Informal Kinship Care).

    6. Foster Parent – An adult approved to care for a child who has been placed in their home by a state agency or a licensed child placement agency as provided by the Family Law Article, §5-507.

  4. Respondent – An individual named by a complainant as allegedly violating the policy.

  5. Retaliation – The act or process of threatening or otherwise penalizing a person for reporting an alleged violation of policy or for participating in an investigation of an alleged violation.

  6. School-Related Activity – Any school system activity, on or off school property, in which a student directly participates (e.g., school field trip, athletic event, or class/graduation activity), or an activity in which the student does not directly participate but represents the school or student body simply by being present (e.g., spectator at a school event).

  7. Sexual Discrimination – Any act or omission due to an individual’s actual or perceived sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or gender expression (including transgender or gender nonconforming) that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or educational environment; or substantially interferes with an individual’s ability to work, learn, or otherwise is sufficiently serious to limit an individual’s employment opportunities, or to limit a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the educational program.

  8. Sexual Harassment – A form of sexual discrimination that involves unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other inappropriate verbal, nonverbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that takes place under any of the following contexts:

    1. Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of the individual’s employment or educational environment or status; or

    2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or educational decisions affecting the individual’s environment or status; or

    3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s work or educational performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.

    Examples of sexual harassment include but are not limited to:

    1. Spreading rumors about or evaluating someone for their sexual behavior.

    2. Taunting or ridiculing someone because of perceived or actual sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

    3. Visual harassment such as derogatory posters, photography, cartoons, drawings, clothing, or gestures communicated in person or electronically.

    4. Pressuring someone for sexual activity.

    5. Sharing or pressuring someone to share (including electronically) sexually explicit material.

    6. Offensive language (epithets, dirty jokes, derogatory comments, or slurs of a sexual nature) communicated verbally or in writing, including electronic formats and social media.

  9. Sexual Misconduct – An all-inclusive term encompassing discriminatory and/or unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature including but not limited to sexual discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual violence Sexual misconduct can be committed by a person of any gender identity and it can occur between people of the same or different gender, gender identity, or gender expression.

  10. Sexual Orientation – The nature of an individual’s physical, romantic, emotional and/or spiritual attraction to another person.

  11. Sexual Violence – The use of force or manipulation to engage in physical sexual activity with an individual without their consent. Consent may be absent due to an individual’s age, the presence of a disability, and/or influence of alcohol or other drugs, amongst other reasons that limit an individual’s capacity to provide consent.

  12. Third Party – Parents, mentors, volunteers, vendors, contractors, and others with whom students or employees interact during school or school-related activities.

  13. Title IX – Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the 1975 implementing regulation, and any memoranda, directives, guidelines, or subsequent legislation that may be issued or enacted. This law states:

    No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participating in, be denied the benefit of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

  14. Title IX Coordinator – The employee(s) designated to coordinate efforts to comply with and carry out responsibilities under this policy and the law.

  15. Title VII – Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a federal anti-discrimination statute that prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace.

  16. Transgender – An umbrella term that describes people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.

IV. Standards

  1. It is a violation of this policy for any student, employee, or third party to engage in sexual misconduct.

  2. It is a violation of this policy for any student, employee, or third party to engage in retaliation with regard to complaints of sexual misconduct.

  3. Student, employee, or third party behavior may be severe enough to violate federal and state laws prohibiting sexual discrimination in educational institutions and the workplace (e.g., Title IX., Title VII.).

  4. Sexual violence and other conduct prohibited by this policy may require a referral to the appropriate law enforcement agencies. Therefore, individuals may be subject to criminal charges.

  5. Sexual misconduct of a student may also constitute child abuse and such cases must be addressed and reported to appropriate law enforcement and social services agencies in accordance with Policy 1030 Child Abuse and Neglect.

  6. Other forms of gender discrimination and harassment are addressed under Policy 1010 Anti-Discrimination, Policy 1040 Safe and Supportive Schools, Policy 1060 Bullying, Cyberbullying, Harassment and Intimidation, and Policy 7030 Employee Conduct and Discipline.

  7. Notice that sexual misconduct is prohibited in the HCPSS will be communicated to all students, parents, employees, and the community annually via customary channels.

  8. The HCPSS will provide periodic training for employees on the substance of this policy.

  9. Sexual misconduct reporting forms such as the Bullying, Cyberbullying, Harassment, or Intimidation Reporting Form and the Employee/Third Party Sexual Harassment Complaint Form will be easily accessible to students, employees, and third parties both electronically and in print form.

  10. A student may file a complaint alleging sexual misconduct orally or in writing with a teacher, school counselor, school-based administrator, or directly with the Title IX Coordinator. All reports filed with a teacher, school counselor or school-based administrator will be forwarded to the Title IX Coordinator who will oversee and support the investigation of the complaint.

  11. An employee or third party may file a complaint alleging sexual misconduct orally or in writing with a school-based administrator, supervisor or directly with theTitle IX Coordinator. All such reports filed with a school-based administrator or supervisor will be forwarded to the Title IX Coordinator/Designee who will conduct the investigation of the complaint.

  12. All HCPSS employees and third parties who have been made aware of alleged sexual misconduct must report to the appropriate administrator, supervisor or Title IX Coordinator immediately.

  13. The HCPSS will investigate allegations of sexual misconduct in a timely manner, provide interim protective measures as appropriate, and address any findings. Examples of interim protective measures include but are not limited to temporary schedule changes, additional counseling/staff support, hallway escorts, safety plans, and staff administrative leave.

  14. In all phases of complaint resolution, every effort will be made to maintain the confidentiality and protect the privacy of all parties. These efforts may be limited by the school system’s legal and regulatory obligation to investigate and address allegations of sexual misconduct.

  15. Upon completion of an investigation of a complaint, the individual conducting the investigation will consult with the Title IX Coordinator. After consultation, that individual will send a prompt, written report of the findings and recommended corrective actions, if any, within confidentiality guidelines to the complainant and the respondent.

  16. The complainant and the respondent are entitled to appeal the investigation findings and/or recommended corrective action. All appeals will be decided by an impartial decision-maker.

  17. The HCPSS will take steps to prevent the reoccurrence of any acts of sexual misconduct and to remedy the discriminatory effects on the victim and others. Consequences for a student, employee, or third party who violates this policy will include steps to prevent the reoccurrence of any act of sexual misconduct and will be administered according to applicable school system policies (HCPSS Student Code of Conduct; Policy 9200 Student Discipline; Policy 7030 Employee Conduct and Discipline) and other applicable state and federal laws. Consequences for violation of this policy will include all appropriate forms of discipline including expulsion from school and termination of employment.

  18. Violations of this policy are cumulative; subsequent offenses may affect the nature and severity of the consequences.

  19. Utilization and/or exhaustion of these procedures is not a prerequisite for the filing of complaints with the Office for Civil Rights. Complaints alleging Title IX violations may be filed directly with:

    The OCR office for Maryland is located at:

    Philadelphia Office Office for Civil Rights
    U.S. Department of Education
    The Wanamaker Building
    100 Penn Square East, Suite 515
    Philadelphia, PA 19107-3323
    Telephone: 215-656-8541
    FAX: 215-656-8605; TDD: 800-877-8339
    Email: OCR.Philadelphia@ed.gov

    The OCR National Headquarters is located at:

    U.S. Department of Education
    Office for Civil Rights
    Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Building
    400 Maryland Avenue, SW
    Washington, DC 20202-1100
    Telephone: 800-421-3481
    FAX: 202-453-6012; TDD: 800-877-8339
    Email: OCR@ed.gov

    Complaints alleging sexual discrimination against an employer may be filed directly at:

    Baltimore Field Office
    GH Fallon Federal Building
    31 Hopkins Plaza, Suite 1432
    Baltimore, MD 21201
    Telephone: 800-669-4000
    FAX: 410-209-2221; TTY: 800-669-6820
    EEOC Public Portal: https://publicportal.eeoc.gov/portal/Login.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2fportal%2f

V. Responsibilities

  1. The Title IX Coordinator will fulfill any of the job duties and responsibilities of that position stated in the Title IX legislation but not herein specified, including responding in a timely manner to complaints of alleged sexual misconduct.

  2. Principals will notify students, families, third parties and employees in their schools of the provisions of this policy.

  3. Supervisors will notify those under their supervision of the provisions of this policy.

  4. The Superintendent/Designee will communicate the provisions of this policy annually through customary channels.

  5. Employees will monitor student behavior and respond appropriately to both observed and reported violations of this policy.

  6. Employees in supervisory or management positions will take steps designed to address any existing sexual misconduct by those under their supervision, to prevent any recurrence, and to correct the harmful effects of the misconduct on the complainant and others.

VI. Delegation of Authority

The Superintendent is authorized to develop procedures to implement this policy.

VII. References

  • Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

  • The Annotated Code of Maryland, Article 49B, Section 16

  • COMAR 13A.08.01.15 (Reporting Delinquent Acts)

C. Relevant Data Sources

D. Other

  • Bullying, Cyberbullying, Harassment, or Intimidation Reporting Form

  • Employee/Third Party Sexual Harassment Complaint Form

  • Formal Concern Form

  • HCPSS Student Code of Conduct

  • HCPSS Student Statement/Witness Form

VIII. History

ADOPTED: May 28, 1992

REVIEWED:

MODIFIED:

  • August 14, 2014

  • June 11, 2015

REVISED:

  • January 30, 2001

  • February 7, 2008

  • October 2, 2018

EFFECTIVE: July 1, 2019